It is clear that the Arizona Coyotes are one of the teams on the rise in the National Hockey League.
No, they are not one of the elite clubs in the league. They still have a ways to go before they get to that level, but they are a team that is working hard and improving, which, right now, is the only thing that matters for this franchise.
One of the main reasons why things are looking up for this franchise is because of the guy they have in net. For the Coyotes, Antti Raanta has been everything and more and with him between the pipes, there is a chance that this hockey club could end up surprising a lot of people.
Raanta’s stats are fantastic this season. As of this writing, he is 5-4 with a 2.10 goals against average and a .929 save percentage.
Believe it or not, these kinds of numbers are nothing new for Raanta. Coming into this year, he had posted save percentages of .936, .919, .922, and .930. He had also posted great numbers as a backup for the likes of the Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks behind Corey Crawford and the New York Rangers behind Henrik Lundqvist.
In Arizona, Raanta, 29, is the main man between the pipers and it is easy to see why he has earned this kind of position in the NHL. His numbers this season are simply a continuation of his fine numbers from last year, as he was 21-17-6 with a 2.24 goals against average, a .930 save percentage, and three shutouts.
Last year’s numbers and this year’s numbers so far are elite numbers. Raanta is one of the quickest goaltenders in the league who is always in good position to stop the initial shot and is then able to to get back up and be in solid position for second and third chances.
When you’re a goaltender on the Coyotes, you know that you are going to face a lot of high-quality scoring chances. This does not seem to be a problem for Raanta. Since joining this franchise, he has stopped about 93 percent of the shots he has faced.
While there are a lot of top-tier netminders in this league, not many can put up a save percentage like that. Yes, I realize that Raanta played in just 47 games last season due to various injuries, but nevertheless, he stopped a lot of pucks and stopped a high percentage of them.
Because of his strong play between the pipes, his team actually first in the league in goals against. The team has allowed just 24 goals in 12 games and while the team is not allowing a lot of shots on goal this year (just about 30 shots against per game). When they do give up chances, Raanta gets the job done.
Raanta’s strong play has also helped the team to a winning record to start the year at 7-5. There is obviously a ton of hockey left to be played, but the points the team is accumulating now will be important come April.
Speaking of April, if Raanta continues to play this way, the Coyotes might just be a part of the playoff conversation for the first time since the 2011-12 season. Should they get in, it will be on Raanta’s shoulders.